Sunday, October 19, 2008

More Race Details

Dori's napping after a great lunch at L'Osteria del forno in North Beach in Little Italy. Wonderful Northern Italian cuisine that I'll highlight later.

So today's run was a toughie. That happens. At miles 8 and 10, the only thing I cared about was finishing and getting off the course. Too bad, because the course was spectacularly scenic.

My Team in Training Teammates and I arrived at the start 90 minutes before the start. I felt surprisingly good, despite many trips to the port-a-potty. After the gun, Jessica, Lisa and I ran together the first four miles. Jessica was running her fifth full marathon, while Lisa was running her first half. Both are young and strong. We ran the first two miles easy, taking care to avoid the many walkers on the course. They dotted the streets from Union Square through the Financial District to The Embarcadero, home to many of the piers. I looked for Dori as we passed through the Fisherman's Wharf. She saw me, but I missed her.

We hit a few hills, steep but short, then ran through Fort Mason and the Marina District. I was enjoying the scenery. We entered the Presidio National Historic Park and made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge, so impressive in the distance. It was at this point I started to realize my body wasn't so happy. I began to labor. Lisa looked great and took off like a shot out of a cannon. Jessica and I stayed on our 9:30s.

When we reached "the hill" at six miles, Jess asked how I was. "I'm OK, I'll be fine," I said. We ran under the bridge, and Jess actually pushed me twice to help me up the incline. She finally went ahead, as I tried with all my might not to stop. I didn't stop, but I was running in molasses up the steep one-mile hill. Finally, I made it, but my running buddies were well ahead now. I was on my own. The descent went well, and I regrouped for the next hill, which wasn't supposed to be as tough. But it was, and long, too. After a Gatorade break, I walked a quarter mile. One lady gave me a look of disappointment. "Lady," I thought, "You have no idea how disappointing it is not to be running right now."

Perhaps the best view of the race was the run downhill through Lincoln Park to the Pacific Ocean. Even in pain, I could appreciate that view. On the flats in Sutro Heights Park, I began to feel woozy and chilled. My color wasn't right, nor was my breathing. I kept running, hoping for some boost or help. An tall Asian girl next to me tripped and fell, with both knees hitting the aggregate. The crowd yelled in unison. They felt her pain, which had to be immense.

I thought, "I'm not stopping again. The tough hills are gone." But nothing was in reserves. Damn. Help. And there she was. Dori arrived, fresh off the shuttle. She started jogging with me, coaching me up. I told her I was in trouble. She said, "I'll run with you." I said, "How about on the course? I need you."

Coat and purse in hand, she joined me. I felt better, but labored to Mile 11. I told her I needed a break. I didn't tell her vomiting was possible. Queesy and chilled, I walked another quarter mile before uttering a no-no word. That's when we started up again at a slow pace. Others around us were also laboring, a few like me. Maybe they had bronchitis, too.

The end of the race was welcome. Unfortunately, a race official spotted Dori and wouldn't let her cross the finish line after her impressive 2.5 miles. I received the Tiffany necklace and gave it to her over the fence. I gathered myself and started grabbing whatever they handed me. I ate and drank, happy to keep things down. I coughed and hacked hard for about an hour, before that spell finally subsided.

So I crossed in 2:21. Chip time is probably going to be four minutes faster. I've never run this slowly and now have a PW (personal worst) by eight minutes. My other half marathons were between 1:58 and 2:09. It is what it is, and I'm not going to beat myself up. The lasting memory will be of Dori helping me finish a terrible race with respect and showing her own grit by fighting back from the depths last year. What more can a husband ask for? I also disrespected no one. Mile Six was hell, but I scaled it. I could have quit the race, but didn't. I probably won't run that slowly for a long time.

Dori and I returned to the hotel, cleaned up and headed to lunch. We laughed while noshing on polenta with gruyere cheese. Dori ate a roasted potato and carrot dish with rosemary and roasted zucchini with basil. My lunch was perfect ... two slices of pizza - ham with artichoke hearts and a very good Italian sausage with mushrooms - with a few Anchor Steams.

Coach Stephne called and told me Lisa and Jessica had two very different days. Lisa ran a 1:56 half, which is outstanding. I knew she had it in her. She's tiny but strong. Jess struggled, throwing up at mile 13. Stephne found her walking and groggy around mile 18. Jess decided to cut over, taking off six miles. She removed her timing chip and finished 20 brutal miles. I haven't seen her yet, but I want to give her a hug. Jess and I trained a lot together, and I know she'll be disappointed.

You never know what will happen at a marathon. The 2008 Nike Women's Marathon is now in the books. Fifteen minutes slower than I would have liked, mission accomplished.


Anonymous said...

I loved reading the description of your race. I am so proud of all the hard work and determiniation that led you to this big day. You are a winner, for sure, Jim and don't even feel down about your time. Nike's a killer when you're at 100%, so it's amazing that you pulled the time you did with a sick body. I can just see you...plugging away, all focused on the steps ahead.

But, I must say that when I read the part where your brave wife joined you, I was overwhelmed. What a sight...with her coat AND purse running along side you! Despite only knowing you since the start of your Nike training, it's obvious that you two make a great team. Congratulations, Jim and Dori!

Heather Woodroof

Ann said...

You're both heroes in my book. The love that you both share is inspirational. I'm hoping you both got to enjoy San Fran after you recovered from the race. It's a fun city.

PJ said...

I'm proud of you Jim, and so happy that Dori's healthy, happy and by your side.